An effort is being made to curtail the use of live animals in clinical research. Is this cause for celebration or a case of too little, too late?
Stanford University Creates 3D Cancer Tumors
Stanford University researchers recently published a study in the journal Nature Medicine. They were able to create three dimensional cancer tumors from healthy tissue samples of human skin, cervix, esophagus and throat.
By putting pre-cancerous cells into a virus and placing them in the culture dish on normal human tissue, researchers were able to create three dimensional cancer tumors. This allows doctors to observe how cancer invades various layers of cells.
Another advantage obtained is tumor growth duration. In the human body, cancers may take years to develop. With a cultured tumor, cancerous changes were seen within six days. The Stanford report says “The new technique also provides a way to quickly and cheaply test anti-cancer drugs without requiring laboratory animals.”
Side Effect: Fewer Animals Used in Research Experiments
This should be considered good news for animals forced to suffer through medical experiments in laboratories across the world. But the good news is short lived. When reading the report further, it reveals that plans to test drugs on animals would still take place.
Pre-screening of 20 new anti-cancer drugs with the 3D models was performed. The researchers ruled out 17 of the 20 anti-cancer drugs and found only three that showed promise. Those three will be tested on animals.
So yes, it is good news for animal victims of medical experimentation because fewer animals will be used but it still does not provide a definitive alternative that would allow NO animals to be used for clinical research. Some people believe the use of animals in medical research is justified but disapprove of animals being used for cosmetics, toxicology and other non-medical research.
In January 2010, The Humane Society International (HSI) began coordinating AXLR8, a European Union-funded initiative to end the use of animals in toxicology testing. AXLR8 was spurred on by the United States National Research Council (NRC) 2007 report Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: a Vision and a Strategy. It called for more accurate and humane methods in toxicity testing.
HSI has enlisted participants from industry and science. Dow, DuPont, Exxon-Mobil, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Unilever are among the corporations participating. Academia, industry, government and regulators will work together. It is anticipated the project could take 10 years or more to meet its goals.
In The Future
It’s good to know the number of animal experiments is being reduced. The reality remains it will take a long time before animals are no longer being used in research. But, it is a start!
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